There is something about January that really does seem like a blank slate and a fresh start. I am a big believer that new goals and habits can and should be started at any time, BUT there is something about January….
With that, I know that so many of us set goals and try to hit them hard these first few weeks, and naturally, most of those goals are centered around our physical bodies. Whether that is wanting to lose weight, get stronger, eat better, go to the gym more etc.
Can this blank slate that is January be a dangerous time for a new mom? It can be, but doesn’t have to.
If you are a new mom that recently gave birth or maybe it isn’t so recent, but you have yet to get back into a workout routine, I wanted to get out a few thoughts to help you protect your body, your mind and your heart as you set new goals for yourself in the gym.
Whether you goal is to exercise more or lose weight, jumping back in full force is like trying build the second floor of a building first before you lay your foundation. Spend time working on the basics. This could mean different things for different people, for a new mom this means pelvic floor relaxation and strength, inner core connection and awareness, and stability work to your hips and spine.
This also manifests itself in crawling before we walk, before we run. Too often, driven mommas with a goal will normally begin running or training for some sort of race. Have you spent time building up your tolerance to walking without symptoms prior to jogging? Do you have any pain, leaking or feeling crummy with running?
So, walk first, then jog.
Do body weight before adding resistance.
Start with 5 minutes and build length of time each week.
Give yourself some history with a movement before moving on to the next progressed step.
This really is a great piece of advice for anyone with exercise goals, but let’s make this specific for new moms.
Setting high expectations for number of days in the gym or getting your routine done might leave you feeling crummy if it’s not achieved, or potentially set you up for injury if you are not able to give yourself some grace.
New moms have a lot of factors that are going to affect your ability to get a workout in.
Sleep – working out hard or too frequently on little sleep can lead to over exhaustion and poor efficiency. Skipping your planned gym workout after an all-nighter with baby might be the best decision you make as opposed to forcing yourself to get there, sleep deprived and exhausted.
Hormones – if you are still nursing, hormones are still going to play a huge role in your tissue state and tolerance. Most times, 6 months post weening is when hormones have returned to baseline and will allow you to push yourself harder.
Just remember, this is a new time that isn’t going to be forever. Giving yourself a little grace or the permission to rest or taking it easy might make all the difference in the world on overall how you feel and your ability to stick with a program for the long haul.
I see “body back” advertisements ALL OVER the place, encouraging moms to join/pay/participate with the goal of getting your body back. While I understand the sentiment, I think this phrasing and way of thinking can do more damage than good.
First, your body never left. It grew a human, kept them alive, gave them a home and then delivered it. A damn miracle if you ask me. I think we would be short sided if we wished for something that existed before this amazing event happened.
As moms, we want to be healthy, strong and resilient. We want to be as pain and injury free as possible so we can be the best versions of ourselves to take care of those around us. Desperately striving for our old selves can leave you very disappointed, hurting and injured.
Don’t get me wrong. Having aesthetic goals is real, good and acceptable. But having that be your only goal might not be the best motivation for a healthy balance and routine.
Think and establish your “why” before carrying out your goals and make sure its reasoning that won’t leave you hoping for an old version of yourself – but looking towards a future version, a version that could probably kick your old versions butt.
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